November 7, 2005

West Nile Virus program ends for season


EWMARKET: With the cool weather now upon us, York Region Health Services reports that the West Nile Virus control program has ended for the season. This includes all West Nile Virus surveillance activities including the collection and testing of dead birds and the trapping and testing of mosquitoes.
 
York Region Health Services thanks all who participated in this year’s program. Residents had been asked to report dead crows and blue jays as a tool to determine possible West Nile Virus activity in York Region. Suitable specimens were collected and submitted to the Canadian Co-operative Wildlife Health Centre in Guelph for testing for the virus.
 
This season:
• A total of 1,341 reports of dead birds were received from the public through the Health Connection information line
• 175 crows and blue jays were picked up and, of these, 53 were submitted for testing to determine the presence of the virus
• A total of 22 birds tested positive for West Nile Virus in 2005 
(21 crows and one blue jay
 

The following chart summarizes West Nile Virus activity in York Region in 2005:

 

 

Municipality

Human Cases

Birds Positive

Mosquito Pools Positive

Aurora

5

East Gwillimbury

1

 1

Georgina

1

 1

King

1

Markham

1

5

Newmarket

 2

Richmond Hill

 2

Vaughan

4

 4

11

Whitchurch-Stouffville

 1

 1

Total

5

22

14

 
In 2004, 11 birds and one mosquito pool (or batch) tested positive for the virus in York Region. No locally-contracted human cases were reported. In 2003, there were 2 human cases, 9 birds and 6 mosquito pools testing positive for the virus in York Region.
 
The 2005 West Nile Virus control program included:
 
• Mosquito, bird and human surveillance
• WNV control activities, including a larviciding strategy. Larvicide was applied in June, July, August and September to all catch basins along Regional and Municipal Roads and in catch basins, as required, on private property
• Public education regarding common sense and effective measures to prevent exposure to WNV
 
In addition to crows and blue jays, and as an enhanced service, York Region Health Services offered a dead bird pick-up program for birds of any species. This program has also ended for 2005. Residents are advised that the local municipalities prohibit the disposal of birds in the garbage. If you find a dead bird, do not handle it with bare hands or dispose of through the municipal garbage systems. If you choose to handle a dead bird, wear rubber gloves, double bag the carcase and bury under two feet of soil using a spade or shovel.
 
For more information on West Nile virus or any health-related concern, contact York Region Health Services Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653 or visit www.york.ca.
 

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Contact:   Jennifer Mitchell-Emmerson, York Region Health Services
905-830-4444 Ext. 4016  
Jennifer.mitchellemmerson@york.ca

 
 
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